Marine Tourism

Overview of Marine Tourism

Marine tourism encompasses many recreational and tourism activities such as swimming, diving, surfing, boating, fishing, cruising, and more. Coastal tourism accounts for tourism activities within 50 kilometers of the coast, standing as a pivotal driver of economic prosperity and cultural exchange.

Economic Impact and Growth Potential

Coastal and marine tourism represents over half of total global tourism, and contributes largely to the economic sector for many developing states and small islands. Contributing 4.6 trillion US dollars and 5.2% of global gross domestic product, the marine and coastal tourism industry is expected to represent the largest ocean economy sector by 2030. Notably, coral reef tourism alone attracts over 350 million visitors annually, generating approximately 36 billion dollars in economic value.

Issues in Marine Tourism

Despite its economic success, there is massive leakage within the industry, with international chains receiving disproportionate benefits at the expense of local communities. There are significant issues regarding low wages and high workloads within the tourism industry, which is exacerbated by increasing cost of living in coastal cities. The seasonality of the marine tourism sector contributes to job insecurity for locals and creates large issues regarding their access to resources and economic gains from the industry.

Tourism also is one of the most carbon emissions-intensive industries, contributing 8 to 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Systematic change is of absolute necessity to steer the industry into a more sustainable direction.

How to Achieve a Blue Economy in the Sector

To cultivate a sustainable marine tourism industry, robust collaboration between governments, tourism stakeholders, and local communities is paramount. Genuine partnerships must be forged, ensuring inclusivity in decision-making processes, particularly in vulnerable small island communities. Investing in local infrastructure and promoting eco-certified tourism are crucial steps in combating climate change and fostering an ecosystem-centered approach to tourism development.

Coastal and marine tourism are highly impactful and reliant on the local environment, culture, and community. Considering this, it is imperative to invest within the local community, upgrading to more sustainable infrastructure including waste management. Alongside this, increasing the value of eco-certified tourism is paramount in combating climate change; with more options for environmentally conscious tourism providers, a shift in consumer behavior can be realized and a more ecosystem-centered approach to tourism development can be achieved.

Accelerating climate change mitigation efforts is paramount. By aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the industry can set specific and achievable targets to achieve sustainability practices. Embracing regenerative, nature-based solutions to bolster the resilience of coastal and marine environments is imperative, aligning with international agreements and fostering eco-friendly practices. 

Realizing this vision demands investment in environmental and community-led initiatives, underpinning the transformation towards a more holistic marine tourism industry. Through concerted efforts, stakeholders can catalyze positive change, ensuring the preservation of marine ecosystems for generations to come. 

Central to the blue economy ethos is the adoption of a circular economy model, where natural capital is replenished, pollution is minimized, and resources are utilized efficiently. Through renewable energy sources, sustainable food security measures, and zero-carbon transportation, a blue and circular economy can be realized. The blue economy uses this model, and goes beyond it by prioritizing local economic development, ensuring local purchasing power increases and leakage decreases, thus ensuring a fair distribution of economic benefits within communities. 

Marine and coastal tourism have great potential to be a sustainable and community-based industry, where host communities and local stakeholders collaborate to create meaningful and environmentally conscientious tourism experiences. Efficient collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders is essential in the planning and development stages of tourism recovery, especially regarding the industry‚Äôs sustainability. Through focusing on achieving harmony between the environment, society, and the economy, where cultural and natural resources are cherished rather than exploited, a balance can be achieved. 

Regenerative tourism is founded on the principles of supporting local communities, conserving the environment, and protecting cultural heritage rather than exploiting the resources of a destination for profit. By incorporating these principles into the marine tourism industry, a more holistic and mutually beneficial sector will arise. Supporting the community is an essential aspect of the blue economy, providing long-term, stable employment for locals.